MICHauto Student Forum Offers Glimpse of Exciting, In-Demand Careers

By Daniel A. Washington 

Helping to debunk common myths about the auto and mobility industry, MICHauto, in partnership with Ford Motor Co., Oakland University and Planet M, hosted its “Opportunity Auto.Mobility” student career forum on Feb. 16 that included a keynote and networking reception for more than 70 students. The event aims to better engage prospective talent with auto industry experts and employers.

“Auto manufacturers are looking for people who will bring a fresh perspective to the table,” said Jessica Robinson, director of city solutions (Ford Smart Mobility) for Ford, during her keynote address.

Robinson shared her journey leading up to her current role at Ford that included stops at Zipcar, one of the first ride-sharing companies in Detroit, and startup accelerator Techstars.

Robinson reiterated that in today’s industry, anyone with an interest can find a niche for their skills to thrive.

“Starting my career with Zipcar helped me understand the number of opportunities the auto industry can provide,” said Robinson.  “Who would have ever thought an anthropology major would work in the auto and mobility space?”

In addition, a panel of former Oakland students who currently work in the automotive industry discussed the possibilities of international travel, positive work culture and upward career mobility that their jobs offer.

“The autonomous tech space is exploding right now and is offering a number of opportunities to those in a number of fields to work and thrive in a creative and innovative way,” said Robinson.

The panel was moderated by MICHauto’s Rob Luce and included panelists: Mike Dudek, manager of commodity purchasing for Faurecia North America Inc.; Samantha Roberts, communications co-op for Yazaki North America Inc.; Elise Smith, manager of human resources and business partner for American Axle & Manufacturing Inc.; and Cassandra Traynor, manager of human resources for Brose North America Inc.

Following the presentations, students discussed employment opportunities with 16 auto-related companies at the networking reception. Companies in attendance represented a number of counties across the region showcasing the diversity and vibrancy of the industry.

Daniel A. Washington is a marketing and communications coordinator at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

MICHauto Names Sen. Ken Horn Legislator of the Year; American Axle’s Bill Smith Honored for Volunteerism

By Daniel Lai

MICHauto presented Sen. Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) its 2016 Legislator of the Year award at its Annual Meeting at the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn this week. As chair of the Michigan Senate’s Economic Development and International Investment Committee, Horn was instrumental in the passage of a four-bill package aimed at modernizing guidelines for driverless vehicle research and operation within the state.

Senate bills 995-998, collectively known as the SAVE (Safe Autonomous Vehicles) Act, were signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder on Dec. 9.

“Michigan, for much of its history, has been known throughout the world as the home of the automobile, and it is only appropriate that we continue to be a pioneer in the industry,” Horn said. “Data shows that more than 90 percent of auto accidents are caused because of human error. If we can remain an integral part of the development of technology to reduce these errors, I think it will be a great move for our state.”

Bill Smith, executive director of government affairs and community relations for American Axle & Manufacturing Inc., was named Volunteer of the Year for his tireless commitment to protecting, retaining and growing Michigan’s mobility and automotive industry. Smith serves on MICHauto’s steering and talent committees and has been instrumental in promoting exciting, high-paying manufacturing careers to students across the state through MICHauto’s Discover Auto program and facility tours.

“I can’t think of anything more fun than attracting new business and promoting the automotive industry in Michigan,” Smith said in accepting the award.

For Auto Industry, Attracting and Retaining Millennial Talent Requires an Inclusive Company Culture